ASK ABDI: HOW DO I PROTECT MYSELF WHEN DOING HEALING WORK?
QUESTION: I am an energy healer. I was visiting a friend whom was seriously ill; I felt compassion and tried to help by putting my hands on him. I soon felt pain in my arms and felt depleted. I told him I could not continue, but he grabbed my hand in terror and placed it back and did not let go. In the aftermath, I became terribly ill. After several months of intense suffering, I managed to heal myself.
Now I am having anger towards my friend. I felt very violated by that experience and have not seen him since. I am also realizing how he emotionally manipulated me. I am sitting with this… wondering… is that the true source of my anger? My friend is very ill now and is near death and wants to see me. I am not sure if I can see him again and am afraid of repeating the pattern. Can you shed some light on the situation?
ANSWER: This whole episode has been a powerful teaching for you. Many healers tend to go through something similar at some point in their work, I certainly did. Through examining what occurred, you can learn to differentiate between caring and caretaking; compassion and idiot compassion, as the Buddhists say.
Let’s break down what you wrote:
“I felt compassion and tried to help by putting my hands on him” is caretaking, not compassion. Sitting with someone and holding space is compassion. Laying on of hands is taking them on, especially when one is not asked to do so. It is difficult to feel one’s helplessness in such situations and just be present. That act is, in fact, what can be quite helpful. Also, learning to know one’s limitation is crucial. If you are feeling drained, you are not helping anyone. Know your limits and abide by them.
“Now I am having anger towards my friend. I felt very violated by that experience”, is anger towards yourself, by not taking care of yourself. That is your responsibility, not his or any other person. Same for the violation, that is you allowing yourself to be violated.
If you decide to visit your friend, set strict boundaries for yourself and stick with them. You don’t have to see him in person if you don’t want to, just connect with him on the ethereal field and send your blessings. This is about you learning how to take care of you, not about caring for another.